There are always surprises on a farm. The day Splat was born was full of surprises, six of them, actually.
We were expecting the first 3 goats of the season to kid on Tuesday, or thereabouts. In my mind, “thereabouts” could mean anytime Tuesday or after, when I would be ready to launch into a month’s worth of kidding season and commence twice daily milking. I anticipated numerous chai teas in the barn, waiting through each goat’s birthing process with Erma Bombeck on hand for literary entertainment, where I would be ready to leap to the aid of a struggling goat with my recently equipped medical supply box.
Tuesday or after, the collection of empty plastic water bottles residing on the back corner of the kitchen counter would be complete, eagerly waiting to be capped with black nipples and used as baby bottles at a moment’s notice.
On Tuesday, or thereabouts.
But on the Sunday preceding the aforementioned Tuesday, I’m sure you can understand our surprise when we returned from our final foray to the city as free farmers. Upon noticing a white goat missing from the pasture, we headed to the barn anticipating Willow in the early stages of labor, seeing as she hadn’t been in any stages of labor that morning. Suffice it to say, we were shocked when we saw 4 baby goats scattered around the pen, two piled like miniature snow drifts, the other two resembling long legged skunks. After a feeble cry from the barn, we discovered a 5th, also dressed like an Oreo.
5 Babies! All Alive! From One Mama! It Was A Record!
Now, let’s back up a second. Upon arriving home, our sporatically devoted farm boys took up residence in front of their iPads and the TV, all screens blazing at the same time. When I arrived at the back door to notify them that their presence was desired in the barnyard but divulging no details, and after putting a fair amount of thought toward the offer, they obliged anticipating a birthing session. (Besides soccer practice, that is the one thing that can compete with Clash of Clans, NCIS and YouTube.)
The newly minted teenager made it out first, feet a-shufflin’, head a-waggin’, all cool, calm and collected. Immediately, and quite brilliantly, he exclaimed, “Those aren’t ALL Willow’s babies, the black and white ones are PEARL’S!!” (Who, by the way, was out in the pasture, contentedly chomping away, acting like she hadn’t just popped out three furballs on stilts.) And, to add to his ballooning IQ, he discovered a sixth pile of white hair and bones in the barn: Splat.
Splat, on the far left of the above video, must have been the runt of Willow’s three. For brief periods, he weakly kept his head off the ground but couldn’t stand on any of his rubberlegs, and certainly hadn’t eaten like his energetic brothers apparently had (yes, you counted right, 3 boys). Pearl’s 3 boys (you read that right, too) had figured out how to prop their bodies upright on their precariously wobbling legs and appeared rather adjusted to their new life outside the pond.
However, in his splay legged state of life clinging, Splat became the subject of a real, honest to goodness, farm conversation: We now have 6 bucklings. Do we let him go? (He’s just a boy, anyway. A girl and we wouldn’t even ask the question. A girl grows into a milk producing member of our herd, but multiple boy goats are the least valuable asset on our dairy goat farm.) If he were out in nature, he would fall asleep forever. He would quietly pass on.
Or, do we hold him to mama’s teat and gently coax life giving collostrum into his drooling mouth, feeling to see if he’s swallowing? If that doesn’t help, do we bottle feed him, thus dedicating time and energy to a buckling that we will sell or eat? And, all the while hoping that if that’s the path we choose, the energizing boost of collostrum will not just be a brief glimpse of life that will cause him to suffer more in the end should he die anyway?
To be continued.
– The Goat Cheese Lady